Wednesday, 18 July, 2018

Air Force contracts SpaceX for satellite launch

SpaceX's Falcon Heavy rocket gets Air Force certification A SpaceX Falcon Heavy rocket lifts off from Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral Fla. in February
Theresa Hayes | 25 June, 2018, 02:29

The Air Force Space Command's Space and Missile Systems Center, located at the Los Angeles Air Force Base, California, is the U.S. Air Force's center of excellence for acquiring and developing military space systems. The Air Force will pay $130 million for the mission, which is higher than the standard rate for a Falcon Heavy launch due to the military's mission assurance requirements. Now, it seems clear that the Air Force was comfortable with data from the test flight in February and the more-than 50 flights of the Falcon 9 rocket that forms the three cores of each Falcon Heavy booster.

'SpaceX is pleased to continue offering the American taxpayer the most cost-effective, reliable launch services for vital national security space missions'.

The US Department of Defence received two proposals for its tender in a competitive bidding process. Specifically, the Falcon Heavy rocket will be launching the Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle into its intended orbit.

If the SpaceX military mission is successful, the Falcon Heavy "could displace ULA's Delta IV simply on cost grounds", the media outlet reports, citing industry sources.

It's somewhere between hard and impossible to accurately compare the different payloads and launches of the Air Force Space Command (AFSPC), but SpaceX's only competitor ULA was awarded a contract for the launch of two relatively different AFSPC payloads at an average (fixed) cost of $175 million per mission.

Jump ahead to 2018 and SpaceX appears to have been allowed to compete for this particular mission - known cryptically as AFSPC-52 - before Falcon Heavy had so much as completed an integrated static fire test.

It comes as Boeing, half of UAL, criticized the Falcon Heavy as being "too small" for deep space missions.

It will be the first military national security space payload on the Falcon Heavy craft.

As reported by the Inquisitr, the Falcon Heavy is 230 feet tall and 40 feet wide, and its first stage basically incorporates three Falcon 9 rockets strapped together. The catch here is that an SLS launch is expected to cost about seven times the cost of a Falcon Heavy launch.